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article imageYoga for army vets could help with PTSD

By Sravanth Verma     Apr 14, 2015 in Health
The Veterans Health Administration has launched four pilot programs that offer veterans yoga, acupuncture, Qigong, guided imagery and equine therapies, as an alternative to medication, to help with PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is fairly common among veterans returning from battle. For example, 20 percent of the 2.3 million American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, symptoms of which include anxiety, depression and a sense of always being on guard.
Typically, treatment for PTSD has included medication, painkillers, antidepressants and psychotherapy, which have yielded mixed results. Several of the drugs prescribed can be addictive, and can have several side-effects, such as insomnia, constipation, bone pain, anxiety and depression, which leads to a second round of therapy and medication.
But the Department of Veteran Affairs in increasingly turning to alternate therapies, and are involving and training yoga teachers to better understand veterans' needs. Jess Pierno, a yoga teacher who formerly worked at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said she used to offer a lunchtime yoga class to anyone who was interested. "The yoga instructors who complete this training will be better equipped to teach students who have experienced trauma by knowing how to mindfully adapt a typical yoga class setting and sequence to be more welcoming, comfortable and beneficial," Pierno said. "Yoga is a very important healing tool."
Yoga, which originated in India as a tool for expanding consciousness, is increasingly being used for physical and psychological therapy. Several studies have cataloged the many benefits of yoga.
The Veterans' Affairs department has also sponsored research on how effective yoga might be in dealing with PTSD. A study from the University of W-Madison has looked at how yoga can help war veterans. Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, senior lecturer in psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, said, “The authors describe their results as ‘promising’ and I think this is what they are. More studies are needed and such studies would be highly valuable regarding low costs of this form of treatment and the initial evidence suggesting its effectiveness."
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